Wright, N. (2005) ‘How did I get here? An Interview with Nick Wright’, Training Zone, 1 February Edition.
TZ - How did you come to work in learning and development?
NW - Via a social work and community development route. I saw the real transformational difference that new knowledge, insight and skills could make in people’s lives and so started providing individual consulting in reflective practice, studied human resource development and moved into the learning and development (L&D) field.
TZ - Describe your role.
NW - I’m the L&D team leader for Tearfund, a Christian international development and relief organization. I work alongside three internal learning consultants and a team administrator. The organization is internally diverse and works in some 80 countries around the world which makes our role very challenging and stimulating.
TZ - What activities do you spend most of your time on?
Eight key areas of the L&D team’s work that form the basis of my leadership approach: team vision and values, consulting and coaching, team development, environmental scanning, strategy and tactics, policy and good practice, marketing and communication, quality and impact evaluation. It’s all about helping the team be the best we can be and to add maximum value.
TZ - Is learning and development in your organisation mainly organised according to a strategic plan, or mainly arranged when a need has become evident?
NW - Both really. We design and deliver bespoke programmes to support implementation of organizational strategy but also encourage and support continuous leadership, staff and team development to stay at the cutting edge of our professional fields.
TZ - Is any of your training accredited by external bodies?
NW - Yes. We support individuals on a wide variety of externally-accredited courses and study programmes. We also run our own internal bespoke programmes, e.g. a disaster management development programme for field coordinators overseas in situ, endorsed by the UK’s Institute of Leadership and Management.
TZ - Do you feel that learning and development has a high enough profile in your organisation?
NW - Yes. Tearfund is firmly committed to learning and development at individual and organizational levels. Our motivation is based on our Christian mission and values combined with an overriding desire to achieve maximum positive impact alongside those living in poverty and insecurity.
TZ - How do you demonstrate the value of your department to your organisation?
NW - We design all major L&D initiatives in consultation with key stakeholders; conduct formal evaluations of significant interventions in terms of customer satisfaction, learning achieved and impact on practice; regularly report development progress and opportunities on the organizational intranet and to the leadership team.
TZ - What influences do you think have had the greatest impact on the learning and development sector in recent years?
NW - A growing awareness of linkages between individual and organizational development; the need for L&D professionals to move from service provider to consultancy roles in order to add value via influencing at strategic levels; a desire to find new and effective ways of evaluating the practical influences on and impacts of learning.
TZ - Do you think that learning and development professionals should have a greater say in planning national training policy?
NW - Yes, principally via the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and Institute of Training and Occupational Learning (ITOL).
TZ - How do you see your work changing or developing in the next few years?
NW - At a macro level, an emphasis on developing formal relationships with similar agencies globally in order to share knowledge, expertise and other resources to achieve greater collective impact. At a more local level, to build the team’s capacity for learning consultancy provision and effective impact evaluation.